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You have a ton of stuff you want to get done today. You want to hustle and get that stuff marked off your to-do list. Then the first tantrum hits. Yep, it looks like your to-do list will have to wait a second.
I have been there countless times. It is sooooo frustrating and easy to take out on your children. If only they could keep it together for a few minutes, you could finally get some things done. Why does it seem they only act like this with you? There has to be a better way to get things done with toddlers running around, right?
Well, I wish I could give you a magic wand to make your children just not have tantrums when they know you HAVE to get things done, but I can’t. The best thing you can do is evaluate, test, and evaluate again. Here are some tips to help you get started being more productive.
Productivity Tips for Special Needs Moms
1. Set alarms for medicine and/or procedures
Set alarms on your phone throughout the day to give your children medicine or do medical procedures with them. If you have to help your child go to the bathroom every 4 hours or do stretches, then set alarms to help you remember.
I don’t put this on the calendar, because the time changes based on what time my daughter wakes up in the morning.
2. Use nap time to your advantage
Use naptime to really get a lot of work done. I know it’s tempting to sit and rest for the whole hour or so, but don’t. You can really get a lot done without your children around needing your attention.
3. Use waiting time to your advantage
How many hours do you spend sitting around in waiting rooms? When you are waiting on your child’s appointment, don’t just sit there. Be productive. Waiting is a good time to make phone calls, read that book you have been putting off, etc.
4. Create and implement a block schedule
Creating and implementing a block schedule is so helpful. A super simple definition of a block schedule is creating your schedule in equal (or almost equal) time blocks. Some people prefer 30 minutes per block, but I prefer 1-hour blocks of time (or longer-think naptime).
In each block, you do similar tasks together.
Cook and Eat Dinner (Daily)- 5:00-6:00
Therapy at Home (M-F) 3:00- 4:00
You just write out your to-do list group like items together and do a chunk during a block of time. Within each block, you would itemize the items that go with that category. Cooking dinner is obvious, but errands change weekly. For errands write down where you need to go and what you need to do.
5. Schedule your blocks on your calendar
Inputting your scheduled blocks of time into your calendar is so helpful. I use Google Calendar. You can use their app and/or website. If you have the app on your phone, you always know what is happening. You don’t have to worry about lugging around a huge paper planner ‘cause you know when you have a child with special needs, the last thing you need is more paperwork.
6. Get off your phone
Don’t mindlessly scroll on social media. You spend way too much time on the phone per day. The average person spends 3.5 hours per day on their phones. How much could you do in 3.5 hours?
7. Optimize your schedule
Think about when your children are fussy, more alert, in a better mood, etc. Really think about when you can do certain things with and without them.
If you are scheduling when your child does therapy every day, do it a time when they are in the best mood or when they are the most alert.
If you are doing something you really need to concentrate on like your college schoolwork, creating a budget, or having a conference with a doctor, then you need to try to do that when your child is having nap time or quiet time.
Dig deep on this one and ask yourself questions to figure it out and optimize your schedule.
You can tweak as you go along. Your child won’t take a nap every day for the rest of their life, so you will have to come up with another strategy in place like quiet time with a tablet or favorite tv show.
8. Batch work
Batching means doing like items together. Ex: errands, money-related tasks, computer-related tasks, chores, etc. together.
The biggest advantage to batch working is you avoid the challenge of task switching. Your brain takes energy to transition from one task to the next.
When you keep switch tasks and do 5 types of tasks within a 30-minute time block, your brain gets tired. This causes your brain to work in overdrive and it gets harder to get things done.
9. Keep a running list of things to do when they are bored
Keep a list, on your phone, of all the things the kids can do without you when they are bored or you just need a couple of minutes to focus on a task.
Ex: playing with Play-Doh, watching their favorite show, sorting items, playing with blocks
As you go about your day, see things on Pinterest, or think about things, add them to the list. When you keep the running list, it prevents you from having to think of something on the fly when your kids are getting fussy and you need to concentrate on a task.
10. Teach independence
Teaching your children to be independent gives you your time back. It takes time to teach them new things in the beginning, but in time, you will get some time back and your time investment will pay off.
Ex: You could go into your child’s room and make their beds up for them each morning for the rest of your life OR you could take 20 minutes a day (or however long it takes) as an investment and teach your child how to make a bed. Over time, they will be able to make the bed independently.
Success Tip: Let THEM do it, Mama. When you are teaching your child something, let THEM do it. It doesn’t matter if their bed isn’t made with military precision every single day. As long as it is made, leave them alone. They will get better over time.
11. Create a meal plan
Meal planning will save you so much time and help you be more productive at dinner time. It will help you make the decision ahead of time and you won’t have to figure out what to cook. Just look at the meal plan.
This is especially helpful if you have a picky child or a child with oral sensitivity. It can make meal-time challenging, to say the least. Wouldn’t it be nice to just use your brain once a week to figure out what to feed them for dinner?
12. Start an evening routine
Start an evening routine. This is like the secret sauce to setting your day up for success. When you prepare for the next day every night, it sets you up to not be in reactive mode or to not be in survival mode the next day. You already know what’s coming. You are prepared.
Tips for Success:
- Don’t beat yourself up. It is never helpful. You can’t beat yourself into submission. Be kind and compassionate with yourself.
- Be realistic. Don’t give yourself 15 minutes to do a 60-minutes worth of at-home therapy activities. You will fail and then beat yourself up. Don’t do it.
- Create boundaries and guidelines. If you work from home, say during these hours (when this sign is up) you have to have quiet time and I have to have minimal interruptions. Your children can understand that. Just communicate it to them in their language.
Do you have to tell them something a lot to sink in? Do they respond better to visual pictures, etc.? You have to tell them in their language. Put up a sign. Whatever it takes.
Ex: We have a boundary around what time my children get up because my daughter wakes up early (like 5:15 AM on a Saturday). We tried telling her and telling her and telling her again. She didn’t get it.
I went to work trying to find a solution. I came across this from Amazon. You can set it with two alarms (perfect for weekday mornings and weekend mornings). The light on the alarm clock is continuously red when it is time to sleep or be quiet. It lights up green when the alarm goes off without an alarm sound. My daughter took to this almost immediately.
Get on their level when you are communicating with them about boundaries.
To get more time management and productivity tips, check out this article LINK TO POST. You can get things done at home. You don’t have to use your children as an excuse to not get things done. You can figure out the best way for you to be productive with your current season.
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